Marfy, Cheetham, and Hughes

Marfy released their Fall/Winter 2016 patterns yesterday, and it’s a grey and rainy morning — perfect for browsing patterns with a critical eye (mwahaha).

Some general thoughts:

-I liked way more of these than I thought I would. The selling point is reading the descriptions and suggested fabrics.

-Speaking of descriptions, this Italian company has better English than most native speakers. The lines of one pattern were described as ‘sinuous’. I fully admit looking it up to see if that’s even a word (it is).

-Fashion drawings add extra/disproportionate length through the leg, so you can trust the bodice to be a reasonably accurate representation of the design. Just mentally subtract 1/3 of the leg length and you’ve got yourself an accurate depiction.

-Marfy doesn’t really design the back of any of their styles. Not sure why. You generally get a CB seam, and sometimes back princess seams…but that’s it.

-This is an actual collection! You can see the progression of design lines if you look through the collection in order. Very cool. It’s real fashion for us sewers!

-I’m pretty good at looking at a garment or pattern and knowing if it comes in plus sizes, but Marfy caught me out quite a few times. Most of you reading this are not plus sized, but if you are, know that Marfy has some pretty awesome patterns made large for us.

Okay, pictures:

F3755, Marfy Coat
F3755, Marfy Coat (42-44-46)

Coat with a shaped, stand up collar and leather trim. This is definitely beyond my skills right now, as I’ve never sewn with leather…but the style points! Oh!

F3772, Marfy Coat
F3772, Marfy Coat (42-46)
F3776, Marfy Jacket
F3776, Marfy Jacket (42-44-46-48-50)
F3789, Marfy Jacket
F3789, Marfy Jacket (42-44-46-48-50)

Serious bodice shaping with an emphasis on the hips sounds like a bad idea, but Marfy made it work. F3772 is especially up my alley, with that stand up collar and fur trimmed cuffs. That could be a more accessible make, but the largest size is a 46 and I’m a 60. I’m not sure I know how to grade up fourteen sizes, even with the help of “Create Any Size: Pattern Grading for Sewers” by Kathleen Cheetham. More on this class later.

F3791, Marfy Jacket
F3791, Marfy Jacket (42-44-46)
F3794, Marfy Jacket
F3794, Marfy Jacket (42-44-46-48-50)

In addition to F3776 and F3789, these last two are part of Marfy’s neckline designs for this season. Again, not an area where pattern companies focus in quite this manner. You might get the variation of a V-neck versus a scoop neck within a pattern, but you’re unlikely to get a star neckline and two different keyhole necklines within a single pattern collection release.

F3638, Marfy Tunic
F3638, Marfy Tunic (42-46-50-54-58)

F3638 is a design that I accurately pegged as being plus sized–look at how unfitted it is! While Marfy does have a reasonably number of patterns in larger sizes (for them, looks to be 48+), in general the larger patterns are looser fitting, have fewer or simpler design lines, etc. What is the cause of this? Why is it that the entities with the most knowledge about pattern grading and design choose to take the low road when it comes to plus size pattern and garment design, leaving us fatties to do the heavy lifting on our own–with significantly less knowledge and much fewer resources? I may be an idealist, but I find it very hard to believe it’s impossible to make intricate and tailored looks in large sizes. We can make humans in the science lab and send amateurs to outer space, but F3791 doesn’t work for a woman with a bust larger than 38″? I find this mind boggling. And that is why I purchased Ms. Cheetham’s pattern grading course on Craftsy: any size, she said. Any size!

sewing class: pattern grading
…if any size is two sizes up or down.

Firstly, I think it can’t hurt to purchase this class, if it’s on sale when you’re buying some other class. If you’ve tried manually grading things using paper and pencil and a grading book, I’d actually recommend you buy this class to see in real time what you’re trying to do. Otherwise…nah. Ms. Cheetham is not charismatic or engaging, though her wardrobe makes me believe she might be when the camera is not making her self-conscious. It’s very hard to follow along with the fairly technical content of the class with Ms. C speaking in a monotone and never smiling–a forever long run on sentence, if you will. (Much like that last one, hah!) It would be best to either watch in small chunks, or watch only the chunk you need.

This class surprised me with it’s focus on grading down, as most sewers are looking to grade things up. And given that Ms. Cheetham is plus sized, I was disappointed she went in the smaller direction with a sort of ‘do it like this, but the opposite way’ instruction for larger sizes. I felt like I had more, rather than fewer, questions after watching her method of grading multi-size patterns, but that could just be me. Where things got good was when she moved onto grading single size patterns up and down, using the same info you can find in any basic grading book. I really appreciated seeing it done real time, with someone explaining things through the process. Manual grading is pretty straightforward, but sometimes you want to see things, you know?

Overall, if you can be patient and know going into it that you will not be bowled over by glittery colors and playfulness, this is a good course to buy. I’d get it on sale, but I’m a miserly cheap sort, myself. Alternatively, if you wish to get all of this info for free, you can look to the fabulous Mrs. Hughes, who is a grader extraordinaire:

Pattern Grading: Method One โ€“ The Easy Way

Pattern Grading: Method Two โ€“ Shift Grading

How to Grade Up a Vintage Pattern: Basic Slash and Spread Grading

How do you feel about grading–want to learn it? Already do it? Tried it, but couldn’t work things out? And how about Marfy–have you sewn any Marfy patterns, or do you stick to scouring their new collections as soon as they come out?

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7 Comments

  1. Marfy sizing has never been very…inclusive. The Marfy bridal designs come in just three sizes – 42, 44, and 46! I’ve also seen plenty of patterns in the catalogs come in sizes 42 and 46 only. I’ve also found it odd that they rarely go below a size 42, which means all of those women with a bust under 34.5″ are out of luck too (unless they want to grade down). I think the limited size range has a lot to do with them being a rather small shop that publishes about 200 new styles each year. They’re usually not simple styles either.

    I’ve sewn up a few Marfy patterns. While I love Style Arc for everyday basics, Marfy is my go-to pattern company when I want to take things to the next level. They have such gorgeous jackets and dresses.

    1. HAH, that is very diplomatic. I didn’t realize the bridal designs also come in such a limited size range, yikes! 34.5″ sounds very small for a bust, but it really isn’t: so I’m surprised they don’t go smaller than that. 100% agree on Style Arc for wardrobe staples and Marfy for reach patterns…their designs are really something special. 200 styles a year, really?? Do you think it would be worth it to order the catalog?

      1. Yes, they push out about 200 new styles a year!

        If you liked looking at the designs on the website, you will *love* the catalog. There’s nothing like seeing the fashion illustrations at 100% scale, printed on heavy semi-gloss paper. Vogue has a sale on the 2014-15 catalog right now – $27 with free shipping.

  2. I looked up โ€˜sinuousโ€™, too. I had an idea of what it meant, but I enjoy looking up words, and often do so when I’m reading books.

    A lot of the Marfy patterns are gorgeous and interesting. I’m not ready to tackle the complexity, since I’m a bit of a lazy sewer and stick to simple styles. But I still like looking at them. Never say never – maybe one of these days I will actually sew one.
    ๐Ÿ™‚ Chris

    1. Ah, Chris, your vocabulary is better than mine. Reminds me of all those years of wondering when I was ever going to use those lists of $10 words we had to look up in the dictionary and use in a sentence. (Do students still do this?)

      You never know when you’ll be inspired to sew up a Marfy pattern! If I were (much, much) thinner, I would definitely try out at least one look from each of their collections. :-p

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